Lucky for us, there are never-ending options when it comes to cigars – cuts, shapes, strength, wrappers, lengths, flavors, and of course brands are all up for the choosing, but which are right for you? Just because a friend hands you an Ashton at a wedding doesn’t mean that cigar matches your tastes. Choosing your cigars should be like choosing your wardrobe – the fit, size, length, look, colors, and brands are based on your style.
Let’s start here. If you don’t like the way it tastes, then the rest won’t matter. From spicy to sweet, woody to nutty, creamy to leathery, the taste and aroma should be at the top of the list when choosing a cigar. Read the product descriptions and customer reviews looking for keywords that describe the characteristics that you like. Often these descriptions and reviews will provide you with suggested pairings to enhance the flavor and experience of your cigar. Just like a nice glass of Cabernet Sauvignon enhances the flavors of a juicy steak, you can pair cigars with wine, beer, liquor, and dessert.
Mild, medium, and full-bodied or bold cigars all have a time and a place, but smoking a cigar that is too strong, can turn you off from cigars altogether. Although the strength has nothing to do with the taste or flavor, it can still be off-putting if there is too much nicotine.
Let’s cut to the chase and address what you’re already thinking – smoking a mild cigar does not make you a “newb” cigar smoker, just like smoking something bold does not automatically make you badass.
Although mild cigars are light and great for new cigar smokers, they are also enjoyed by the most tenured of smokers, as they often are bursting with flavor due to their complexity. These cigars are ideal for earlier in the day, paired with a refreshing beverage of your choosing.
Medium cigars are as expected, just a bit stronger, and require some time for a new palate to get used to.
Bold cigars are full-bodied and pack a punch, which is why they are often indulged following a meal or paired with a beverage to balance out the intensity of the cigar.
Pro tip: If you are new to cigar smoking and you want to experience a full-bodied cigar, don’t just jump into it. Work your palette up to it. Your experience could go from delightful to sickening very quickly.
Size, Shape, Gauge, and Color
Cigar size, shape, and gauge can vary from brand to brand, but are four critical factors to the smoking experience. Remember that the intensity of the cigar is dependent on the amount of nicotine, not the size or color of the cigar.
The size/length of a cigar is measured from cap to foot in inches.
The ring gauge of a cigar measures the thickness. This is measured in 1/64th- inch increments, which is considered one ring. Common cigar ring gauges are in the 40 - 44 range.
The shape of the cigar falls into two different categories: Parejos or Figuardo.
Parejos cigars are typically box-pressed or hand-rolled with straight sides, open foot, and closed tip that should be cut before smoking.
Figuardo cigars are much more unique in their shape and craftsmanship and are not typically mass-produced. These appeal to smokers that prefer varying textures, mouthfeel, and balance in their cigars. Typically, this type of cigar has a closed foot and tip that should be cut before smoking.
Cigar pricing can vary, but keep in mind that a pricey cigar does not mean it is a better cigar. Stick to the guidelines above when choosing your cigars, leaving price as the last factor. Simply remember that a good cigar is based on what is right for you and your tastes.
The best way to develop your palate for cigars and find the cigars you enjoy is to try them! But not just that one that is handed to you at your friend’s wedding, try multiple variations, chosen by cigar aficionados at My Cigar Box.